Modern hearing aids really are marvels of technology and like all wonderful things, require some maintenance to maintain optimum performance.
Repairs cannot only be expensive but down time without one, or both, of your hearing aids can be extremely frustrating. Surprisingly, the largest contributor to damage to hearing aids is ear wax which is slightly acidic and therefore corrosive. In addition, over 90% of repairs are caused by wax ingression either into the microphone ports or sound outlets.
With such considerations to take into account, once you have found the right hearing aids for you, it’s important to keep them clean and well maintained to keep optimal functionality and reduce the risk of repair costs.
How often do hearing aids need cleaning?
Hearing aids regardless of type, model or form factor should at least be wiped or brushed daily before ‘putting to bed.’ It’s a great habit to get into and will prolong the life of the instrument.
We recommend a deeper clean at least weekly, but if you know you produce a lot of earwax, then this should be increased to every few days.
What to do before you start cleaning
Always read your user manual, especially if you have recently acquired new or different hearing aids. This is important as there may be a different way to protect them and the manufacturer may have provided all the tools you require in the main box your hearing aids came in.
Once you feel confident in what you need to do to clean them, find a safe, clean workspace like a table or counter top to work at and take a seat. In this way, the hearing aid is less likely to fall and be damaged.
Tools for cleaning hearing aids
- A lint free cloth which is dry.
- A brush, preferably two. One for the microphone ports and one for the sound outlet part which goes into the ear. The reason to have separate brushes is so you do not put wax into the microphone ports, which you may have picked when cleaning the sound outlet.
- A thin plastic wire to clean the vent.
- An optional extra is an alcohol solution which will also sterilise your ear piece.
As stated earlier, always check advice from the manufacturer..
What not to do
Do not use chemical agents or bleaches not designed for hearing aids and do not use water or detergents on the hearing aid itself.
Although, soapy water can be used to clean ear moulds as long as they are detached from the hearing aid and allowed to dry fully before reattaching.
Cleaning for different types of hearing aids
How to clean Behind the Ear (BTE) aids
To clean a BTE hearing aid, remove the ear mould from the hook. The ear moulds should be wiped over daily and any debris removed. Once a week soak them in warm, soapy water to remove any discolouration, and allow them to dry overnight.
To remove water from the tubing, use a bulb blower and also allow this part to dry overnight.
How to clean In the Ear (ITE) aids
When cleaning an ITE device, the cleaning should concentrate on the openings of the device. This includes the microphone, which should be cleaned using a brush provided by your audiologist, or a very soft toothbrush.
Ensure that the area you are cleaning is facing downwards so that the debris you are removing will fall out, rather than potentially blocking the tubing.
How to clean receiver in the ear hearing aids
The cleaning RITE hearing aids, it is very similar to a behind the ear device only there is no ear mould to clean. Instead, in place of the tube is a micro-thin wire which has a tiny speaker at the end which fits into the ear canal. This part is protected with a wax filter and is the area to be brushed.
If you notice that the hearing aid sounds muffled even after cleaning, then it is probably time to change the wax filter.
General advice for all hearing aids
Try to get used to cleaning your hearing aids at the end of the day. It’s a great and quick habit to get into and will ensure the best sound experience.
How to safely store hearing aids to avoid damage
Your hearing aids should always be stored in their case at the end of the day or for any prolonged period without being worn. It is far easier to locate your hearing aid case than the hearing aids themselves. The case is hard and protects the hearing aid if dropped and is a deterrent to inquisitive pets!
As for where to store the hearing aids in their case, this is really down to personal preference but somewhere nearby and reachable is a good choice, such as a bedside cabinet.
When should you ask a professional to clean your hearing aids?
Yous shouldn’t need to ask a professional to clean your hearing aids if you attend your regular follow up appointments. However, if you have followed the advice of changing wax filters regularly and tried cleaning your hearing aid but it still sounds dead or muffled, then seek expert advice.
On no account try to do a deep clean yourself. Hearing aids are small delicate pieces of engineering and can easily be damaged accidentally.
What can a professional do that you can’t at home?
In short, professionals will have specialist equipment that is specifically designed to carefully clean hearing aids without causing damage.
All our well equipped centres have microscopes, which we use for close work, and specialised vacuums with tiny probes that allow us to get into the ports and outlets. We also utilise vacuum chambers and drying equipment to bring your hearing aid back to life.
Occasionally however, there are rare times when even our specialists have to send hearing aids back to the manufacturer for a resolution, because damage has been caused, or over time certain parts have corroded.
Contact our hearing care specialists
If you would like a thorough and professional clean of your hearing instruments please contact us so together we can prolong their life and save you money in the long run. We have centres in Sussex in Horsham, Chichester and Seaford, and with many years experience will find the best solutions for you and your hearing aids.